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Admin Pro Forum

Admin Pro Forum

Share best-practices with your administrative peers. Pose a question, offer advice, or just be a fly on the wall.

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Question: "Every admin job I apply for asks me about my salary requirements and how much I made at my last position. I guess I still haven’t figured out the right response to this—whether to be perfectly honest, undervalue myself to get a better chance at being hired, or shoot for the moon. Which answer really gets the best results?” – Sam, High School Secretary

Question: "Our office is thinking about converting to Windows 8 now rather than waiting till it’s absolutely necessary, but my boss wants us to be able to answer one question first: What problem does it solve? He’s not a fan of bells and whistles for their own sake and wants to upgrade now only if someone can show that version 8 will save us time or energy. Can anyone tell me if it gives us something that’s either missing or doesn’t work in the previous version?” – Betty, Residential Property Manager

Question: "Have you ever surveyed the executives you or your team work for regarding the level of support they receive and the skill set of the admin team? Do you have a survey or resource you can share?"  — Heather, Executive Assistant

Question: “Is it a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) privacy violation for your employer to ask for your diagnosis on your excused absence letter from your physician?” – J., Texas

Question: “My boss has asked me to come up with ideas to help our staff become more team-player oriented. At a previous job she and a co-worker brought all of their office staff together, paired them up with Legos, and had one read directions while standing behind the one putting the item together. She said the results were fantastic because it showed the staff members how others perceive another giving directions and how they interpret them. Does anyone have any other suggestions on how to make being a ‘team-player’ fun?”  Mary

Question: “I’ve been an admin for about a year, and am thinking about finishing my college degree studies at night. Since I really enjoy this field, I’m wondering if I’m better off just working hard and getting better at it rather than spending my nights for two years getting a degree mostly for the sake of having one. How much job experience do you think it will take to look as good on a résumé as a diploma would?” – Jane, Support Team Leader

Question: “I read recently that your day has either been made or broken by the time you’ve been at your desk for only a half hour, and your routine from the moment you wake up should be carefully engineered toward maximizing your calm and contentment so that the workday begins well. In this case, I’m a disaster, with my mornings at home being chaotic and everything rushing at me very early in the office. Does anyone have a recipe for a morning routine that really sets a good tone for the next eight hours?” – Kat, District Secretary

Question: “My boss is definitely a forward-thinking person, and now she’s really stirred up the pot where I work by suggesting we ban the word ‘assistant.’ She thinks it makes people see one worker as less important than another, and this becomes a stigma. She doesn’t want to change job functions, just the way people perceive them. Does anyone have any good ideas for a better word for what people like me do to help a superior in her job?”  – Kelvin, Support Assistant

Question: “My current job, which I’ve had for nine months, is going sour fast and I don’t think I can go on. Here’s the real problem: If I leave, I don’t trust anyone here to give me a good recommendation, and I wouldn’t know how to explain to an interviewer that I have no references from my most recent position. But if I don’t list this job at all on my résumé, it creates a mysterious recent gap in my work experience. Is there any way out of a dilemma like this?” – Nate, Contract Administrator

Question: “Someone in my office is considering having a little minor cosmetic surgery done—solely because, she says, she thinks there’s a little age discrimination always going on among co-workers, not just in hiring. She made such good points that I’m at least thinking of dressing ‘younger’ and getting my hair dyed. Am I going too far to fight ageism? (And would I actually be part of the problem at that point?)” – Penny, Facilities Planner

Question: “How do you become a virtual assistant? I am very interested.” – Leslie, Marketing Coordinator

Question: “I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I’m still not really sure about the very best techniques to try when using a search engine. I have to Google things all the time but tend to wind up with way too many irrelevant results, or I can’t quite find what I’m looking for. What are the little techniques I’m missing when it comes to precise and complete web-searching?” – Sally, Medical Coder

Question: “The whole he/she issue when writing something that doesn’t apply to a named person still confuses me. Some people get irritated when you choose one gender over the other even when you’re just writing about a hypothetical situation, but the phrase ‘he or she’ sounds silly and awkward when it has to be used too often. What’s the best way to get around this problem?” —Eric, Admissions Advisor

Question: “How do I deal with someone who constantly name-drops and only wants to deal and work with upper management? This person will not discuss issues with other employees or ask for their input or concerns, making individuals feel they don’t matter. I understand that things will get done quicker when issues are brought directly to upper management, but blowing right past other employees hurts the work environment. What to do?” – Marianne, Office Manager

Question: “My boss normally gives out little goodie bags to the staff on February 14, but this year he also had us order Valentine’s Day treats for several top clients—tiny teddy bears included! To me, this doesn’t seem appropriate or very dignified. Is there a rule of thumb about how many gifts is too many to offer your customers, when we should and should not give them, and what kind we should always stick with?” – Tara, Executive Assistant

Question: "Our HR department asked our team to write confidentially about ethical or interpersonal ‘tight spots’ we’ve found ourselves in, and how we reacted to them. It got me wondering about the ways that others have worked through no-win situations—because at work, they seem to happen to everyone all the time! Does anyone have any stories about really difficult decisions they’ve had to make as an admin?” – Rachel, Document Archives Registrar

Question: "Help! My company, which sells insurance for small businesses, wants to establish a Twitter feed, and I’m going to be in charge of it. It’s a nice opportunity, but what sorts of messages can I put out there that will generate any attention when what we do isn’t exactly fascinating to most people?”  – Ellen, Assistant Office Manager

Question: "The reports we generate at work look as boring as can be, mostly because no one wants to take the time to spruce them up. What are some very fast, very simple ways to tweak a Word document so its appearance commands attention?” — Lydon, Inventory Manager

Question: "Where I work, the concept of a deadline has become a bit of a joke. We have a deadline for everything, but if one is missed, it’s simply extended until the work gets done. This creates conflicting expectations and aggravation, especially for the admin staff, which is always waiting for the bosses to finish what they need to. What are the best ways to make deadlines respected when we admins don’t really have the power to discipline?” – Jan, Staff Assistant

Question: "I know I’m supposed to send a thank-you email after I go in for a job interview, but I’m not sure of exactly when to send it. An hour afterward? A day? And what exactly does this note need to contain for me to stick in the mind of the person who might hire me?” – Blake, Hospice Coordinator

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